Weaning Off Lexapro: How To Taper Off Escitalopram

wean off lexapro

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Escitalopram often sold under the brand name Lexapro, is a common type of antidepressant, classified as an SSRI. Learning how to wean off Lexapro is an important step to take for patients who are looking to switch to a different type of antidepressant, as well as for those patients who had been advised by their physician that they may no longer require the drug.

Patients cannot stop taking Lexapro without first speaking to their physician and understanding the potential complications that may occur. Those who stopped Lexapro cold turkey are often at a risk of experiencing serious side-effects, which is why careful monitoring is often also necessary.

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Learn About Lexapro Addiction:

Weaning Off Lexapro

When a patient is advised that they no longer require Escitalopram or that they need to change to a different type of medication to continue treating their mental illness more effectively, they will need to learn how to taper off Lexapro. Since the drug affects chemicals in the brain, quitting Lexapro cold turkey can cause the patient to experience a significant worsening of the symptoms that are associated with their mental disorder. Thus, when a patient is advised that they need to stop using Lexapro antidepressant, then the process may take some time as they will need to wean themselves off the drug gradually.

How To Stop Taking Lexapro

Patients who would like to know how to stop Lexapro should first understand that cold turkey is never the option. There is a procedure that needs to be followed, and a physician experienced in dealing with antidepressants should always be part of the Escitalopram weaning process.

  1. pil split in halfThe first step is for the patient to discuss the entire process with their doctor. Their doctor will be able to assist them in identifying their Lexapro taper – factors such as what affects the patient’s taper will be taken into consideration. If the doctor did not request the cessation of the medication, they might ask the patient why they are looking to stop taking the drug. The patient should explain to them if they experienced Escitalopram sexual side effects or other types of reactions that are causing them to be concerned. In some cases, switching to a different type of antidepressant medication that does not cause these side effects may be a possibility.
  2. Patients should note that getting off Lexapro tends to take some time. They should be patient and closely adhere to the instructions that the doctor provides them.
  3. If the patient wants to know how to stop taking Lexapro 10 mg, for example, they may first be placed on a lower dose and then gradually weaned off.
  4. They will follow this new dose until they can skip a day in between each dose, and then eventually they will completely wean off Lexapro.

In most cases, there will be no need for substance dependence treatment, as experiencing withdrawal symptoms with Lexapro weaning is considered normal. As long as the patient follows the instructions provided to them when they asked their doctor how to wean off Lexapro 10 mg or the specific dose they are taking, withdrawal symptoms can be kept to a minimum.

Variables That Can Affect The Duration Of Stopping Lexapro

When it comes to the cessation of a drug like escitalopram, there are many varieties that need to be considered to understand how long side-effects may last and how long the weaning off period should be when discontinuing Lexapro.

  • Lexapro dosages that the patient has been taking is one of the most important factors that are taken into consideration, as well as the period during which the patient has been using the medication. Both of these factors will impact the side effects of going off Lexapro.
  • Patients who had taken higher doses of the medication and those who had been taking the drug for several years will require a more substantial amount of time to come off the drug.
  • In addition to these factors, it should also be taken into account that each patient responds differently. Some patients may experience more severe side effects when quitting Lexapro, while others may only experience a few withdrawal symptoms.
  • Once the use of the drug is stopped, it is also important to consider the Lexapro half-life, as there may still be traces of the compounds found in the drug in the patient’s body after their last dose.

Side Effects Of Stopping Lexapro

Getting off Lexapro is likely going to cause a patient to experience some side-effects. The particular side-effects depend on a variety of factors and can defer from patient-to-patient, but there are some common withdrawal symptoms that have been reported. Understanding the side effects of coming off Lexapro can help a patient be better prepared and ensure they know what to expect. When the patient knows what happens when you stop taking Lexapro, this also gives them a chance to implement appropriate strategies to help minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Looking at a Lexapro withdrawal timeline can help patients better understand what types of symptoms they will experience right away and which withdrawal effects may last for a considerable period.

Some particularly common withdrawal symptoms that patients should know if they are trying to learn how to get off Lexapro may include:

  • Worsening of depression and anxiety symptoms woman feeling dizzy and holding the wall
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Restless legs
  • The patient’s limbs may feel numb or be in pain
  • Symptoms associated with tinnitus
  • Nightmares

Patients may also experience a reduction in their appetite, which is why weight loss after stopping Lexapro is also a withdrawal effect that may occur.

Dangers Of Stopping Lexapro Cold Turkey

It is never a good idea to give up Lexapro cold turkey. This can and likely will result in more severe side effects – sometimes to the degree where the patient may need to be admitted to rehabilitation institutions in their area for appropriate care and treatment.

Stopping Lexapro abruptly can cause the patient to experience a relapse of the symptoms that caused them to be subscribed the antidepressant medication initially. Their symptoms may also become more severe. Stopping Lexapro side effects may be aggravated compared to weaning off gradually. Furthermore, the patient may also be at risk of experiencing a switch where their depression develops into a mental illness known as mania.

Helpful Tips For Coming Off Lexapro

To reduce Lexapro side-effects when weaning off the drug, there are many helpful tips that can be of assistance to a patient.

  • Patients need to understand what happens if you stop taking Lexapro and also consider how the process can be done safely – a thorough education before the process will help to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Adopting healthy habits is one way that patients can ease withdrawal symptoms when they quit Lexapro.
  • Many patients find that participating in the exercise, eating healthy, and attending to their mental health helps them when stopping taking Lexapro. Relaxation techniques, for example, can be useful for reducing the risk of anxiety and to help bring about a calmer mind.
  • Another way that patients can become inspired and find some help is to look at getting off Lexapro success stories. There are many patients who had gone through the process of going off Lexapro – and reading about these stories can help a patient find the motivation to push through.
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View Sources
  1. DE Berardis D, Serroni N, Marini S, Fornaro M, Valchera A, Martinotti G, DI Giannantonio M, Kahn DA, Emerging mania following escitalopram withdrawal in a patient with unipolar depression managed with its reintroduction, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24847997
  2. Going off antidepressants, https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/going-off-antidepressants

Comments

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  • Thomas C Nystel
    My daughter was prescribed Lexapro as an antidepressant. She was on state Medicaid which paid for this. The physician she was seeing insisted on seeing her every month to get a refill. After being on it for a year, the state HHS decided that they were no longer qualified for Medicaid, and the prescribing physician would no longer see her without full payment in advance. She only had 3 days worth of the stuff and was forced to undergo withdrawal with no assistance from the prescribing physician. She has survived the process, but this was a gross violation of medical protocols, caused by political and economic issues.
    • Mantha
      Wow! I am so sorry that your daughter had to experience that! I’m glad she survived such an inhumane process brought on by such a careless doctor. How long did it take for her withdrawal symptoms to go away?
    • Randy
      Im currently going through this with my wife. She has been off for 3 days.
      • Lauri
        How long was she on lexapro? What milligrams?
  • kat
    i had to go off cold turkey about 6 days ago because my doctors suspected that i’m bipolar and i was in a manic episode so the ad was making it more intense. i was then put on depakote (a mood stabilizer) to help me before i crashed out of my manic episode except it was too late and i literally crashed the day before i went off lexapro and i’m in a bad depressive episode now. it has gotten better now that the mood stabilizer is starting to work but i feel extremely sick to my stomach and constantly dizzy since it’s a lot for my body to handle. unfortunately it’s also caused my obsessive behaviors to get bad again but now i’m just really trying to distract myself and rest to get through this. man…medications can be so difficult 🙁
  • Sue Franks
    What is the best dosage to taper off Lexapro. I have heard stories of Lexapro side effects lasting a year! I was taken off Lexapro while in a hospital without my knowledge. I suffered severe hallucinations & after only one day was paranoid & uncontrollable & disappeared into a world in which I no longer knew I was in the hospital & I was put in restraints. It was three days before an alert nurse realized the problem & put me back on Lexapro. It took another three days foe me to return to the real world with total recall of my “adventures”. I really want off of Lexapro! It could happen again & it terrifies me. If it had been allowed to continue I was headed for psychiatric care & a nursing home. It was made worse by the fact that I had gone into the state so fast no one knew where I was. (I was in a constant state of nausea from ulcers.) I threw up constantly & had gone to the emergency room Sunday & admitted that night & was hallucinating by Monday night!
  • Rachel
    Tried tapering off of Lexapro 2x now – was taking 10 mg for over 5 yrs and tapered down to 5 mg every other day after 2 months. Once I stopped the 5 mg, I got migraine like headaches (sweating, nausea, photosensitivity) for a month. I resumed the med at 2.5 mg qd to stop the headaches. I worry I can never stop this med. My mood is fine, but I don’t like the sexual side effects. Any advice? TY
    • Kate
      I’m in the exact same boat. The only difference is my doc tapered me much faster. 1 week at 5mg (half dose), then one week of 5mg every-other-day, then half a pill (2.5 mg) every-other-day. I just stopped them completely two days ago and feel absolutely carsick 90% of the day. I’m scared it’ll feel like this forever. Any update for you? Sincerely, Scared as hell
  • Jason
    I have been on 10mg lexapro and 3mg kilonipin for 7 years approximate. I started weening off by cutting amounts in half and taking that for a month before cutting doses down over 4-5 months. Im now down to one half mg of kilonipin and no lexapro. A week has gone by and I’m feeling pretty bad. Zero appetite and lost 10lbs. Im praying i get thru this.
  • Hasan Abdelchafy
    I been taking lexapro for almost 10 days and i need to stop it because i feel that my symptoms increased and the side effects is bothering me more especially the sweating and the shaking which i did not had before and the bad though
  • Robert Scheurer
    I’ve been on Lexapro for only 2 months 10 days for mild depression at 10 mg per day, and I feel that with my other sleep aids that it’s time to ween myself off of this stuff! I feel 100% better now, but would of never taken this had I known the side effects and withdrawal symptoms as reported by the readers. Now this scares the the living crap out of me to look forward to withdrawal! Any recommendations as to the best way to ween myself off without consequences? Help please!!!! Bob
  • Linda
    I have only been taking Lexapro for about 5 weeks. My lips were so chapped I couldn’t stand. My doctor said to just stop taking it. It was horrible. I went to my pcp and he said to cut the half into and take for 10 days and the every other day for 7 days and then stop. I never knew ahead of time this would be so bad.
  • Val
    I’ve only been on 5 mg for 4 days and I HATE THIS MED. I feel absolutely LIFELESS. Do I really need to taper off if I’ve only been using it for 4 days??
    • madushani
      Dear.i got 5mg for one day. I feel shiver and nervous. Still same as before with racing thoughts and nervous. What did u doafter 4 days .did u stop cold turkey. What happened.
  • Bea
    I’ve been completely off Lexapro for three months after taking it for two years. I still experience depression, anxiety, and a sense of malaise, but meditation, walking at least an hour a day, and eating super healthy/taking supplements are helping. This completely S**KS and my doctor gave me no warning about this.
  • Sheila
    Lexapro has caused me to sleep a lot. Short naps turn into 3 or more hours. Muscle cramps and weakness. Shortness of breath, as well.
  • JJ
    i have been on lexapro about a year, gained almost 15 pounds even though I do excercsie and eat less. I wanted something else and the dr gave me Wellbutrin, told me to take 1/2 lexapro for a week then 1/2 every other night and the Wellbutrin every day in the AM. After 2 days I had stomach cramps, agitation, no appetite, get like my skin was crawling. I went back on it and almost immediately the feelings stopped. I am afraid now to go off of it.
  • Lydia Christensen
    I have been on Lexapro for 14 months and went off of it 7 days ago yesterday and today I started experiencing terrible flu like symptoms migraine headache so tired I could barely lift my spoon anxiety nausea freezing cold feet my doctor told me to start taking it again immediately and made me an appointment to come in and see her this is terrible my eyes are blurry I keep falling down
  • Sol
    My doctor takes a week to make the prescription to buy escitalopram 20 mg and I was short of pills. To not stopping it, I start to take half pill (10 mg), but I read about the effects of reducing dose, so I was prepared.BUT I was experimenting PMS so the symptoms are not clear if they were from reducing dose or menstruation “waiting” period, which are: tiredness, sleeping more, goofiness, lack of concentration, etc.What I did experiment from escitalopram was the nausea, and of course, the come back of anxiety attack symptoms, that I could control because I was, like i said, prepared. It didn’t mean it was not difficult to control. But at least, I passed through it well.At the same time, I started to work hard on putting my mind positive thoughts, by maintaining the feet on the ground, keep myself real and positive, nurturing my self esteem instead of attack it with thoughts, let judgemental thoughts just pass without no paying attention, etc. I did it because I realize they drain my energy, and I was having less because I was taking half quantity. And, not only that, all that stuffs are the draining my “brain energy” because basically my brain won’t stop working if I keep it in the old way I kept it. So, I change the way my mind use its resources because the other way was not healthy.It’s not a change of days. I will take me time, but I don’t measure time anymore. I just go and do. My doctor will see me on August 2nd, now I have the new meds, but I will keep the half dose until then, or maybe if it’s too much to handle, I will take 3/4 . Of course, I’m complementing my treatment with therapy, and I tried to going out to walk an hour, I’m studying an instrument and I’m about to find a group to do some art to socialize and distract myself and enrich my time. Hell yeah! I’m so proud of myself ^^
  • Barbara
    I have been on antidepressants for 23 years. Any hope of going off? I am overly tired and experiencing word loss.
  • Sue Tancos
    I have been on this drug for almost 2 years and down to 5 mg a day ! I feel terrible no energy and aching legs ! I have gained 14 lbs in a year and desperate to get off this drug ! Using healthy eating meditation and yoga I am hoping to succeed this ! At the moment all I want to do is sleep and no interest in anything ! I will get there
  • Diane McLennan
    Sheila my sleeping has been insane! I have never been a nap person but since taking Lexapro I can sleep for hours at at time and still wake up feeling drowsy. I am weaning myself off this medication and slowly feeling better. So glad I looked at this site as I thought it was just me!
  • Yasmine
    I suffered from mixed anxiety and depression. I took lustral 50 mg for 3 months then cipralex 10 mg for 4 months once morning.i suffred from depression after my mom’s death.i improved but minimal improvement but i gain a lot of weight i eat healthy but from 50 kg i become 65 i eat healthy… i took buspar at night and wqutapex 25 mg ..i still suffered from nightmares i still sufeered from heartache ..i start to give up but i start to work more and talk to people..but suddenly i feel that i don’t want to talk to anyone ,don’t want to work and i escape from work people family friends..even i escape from trips i feel safe on my bed only without people.. what to do… i lost my mind i went to several doctors and the last one adviced me to take brintellex…and norepinephrine.. but i ‘m afraid to shift again to another one..and to suffer again fron new side effects….please help me
  • John
    I have only taken Lexapro for 14 days 10 mg and I just stopped taking them I never really had any bad side effects from this drug, but I decided I did not want to take this anymore , Does anyone have an experience with this, do I need to taper or just stop cold turkey since I haven’t taken them long enough.
    • Tanya
      Any update on your situation? I am in the same boat, and am wondering if it will be ok to just quit cold Turkey.
  • Sarah
    I have been on escitalopram for 7 months now. With the help of my doctor , i am tapering it off. But this process of tapering has caused me acute weakness in the body. I donot have energy to do simple things. I thought that tapering off was meant to reduce such side effects, but in my case, there is no difference.
  • camille
    I have been on Lexapro for 2 years. 10mg/day. I tried to stop last year and didn’t really understand I was going through withdrawal and thought I was depressed, so I went back on it and felt fine. Now I am going through the same again, it has been 2 weeks I am on 5mg/day and I feel awful – lots of mood swings and sadness. This is hard.. I will make it though.
  • Ella
    I’ve been on Lexapro 4 years, but my psychiatrist and I agreed I could *finally* stop taking it. I’ve been on both 10mg & 20mg but averaged 10mg for the duration of treatment. I gained 40lbs “fitness-unabated” during my 3rd year but that, I suppose, was to be expected. Toward the end of treatment, we went down to 5mg. (Quick note: Five mg is not supposed to be a clinical dose of Lexapro; however, if we’re talking statistical significance, we’re dealing with the most significant portion of the sample population. The concept of outliers means you are able to have clinical effects at 5mg just as much as someone might need 20mg to feel anything at all. Keep this in mind so you’re not too hard on yourself during this time.) I spent three months on the 5mg until we stopped “cold turkey” 8 days ago. The brain zaps came almost immediately. In addition, I have been experiencing a tremulous sensation beneath the skin on my face and active tremors in my hands. The zaps are worse at night. What helps is L-Tryptophan (1.5mg but no more than 5mg); this helps with sleep. I’m not a caffeine drinker so I can’t attest to whether or not it exacerbates symptoms. Meclizine (non-drowsy Dramamine) helps with nausea/vomiting. If you feel impaired by your symptoms, I would suggest an ER visit for intravenous fluids and maybe a benzodiazepine, and a call to your prescribing physician. For severe symptoms, there is an option for an SSRI with a longer half-life, such as Prozac, to help make the weaning less painful. I will try to remember to comment after another week about my symptoms to see if it helps anyone.
  • Jen C
    I was prescribed 20mg of Lexapro and I was on the medication for a total 9 months(including the months I weaned off), it started giving me blurred vision, weight gain, and fatigue so I started weaning off of it 1 and a half before I completely stopped taking the medication I got down to 10 mg then went off of it. The withdrawal symptoms were horrible, I felt like I had the flu, I got brain zaps, fatigue, body aches, hard time concentrating, but the nausea and dizziness stayed the longest and was the hardest. I took ginger root for the nausea which helped a lot, then I drank a lot of water, tried to work out it helped with the short temper I had, but I was an emotional roller coaster I stuck through it I finally was prescribed antivert to help with the dizziness which helped a lot and helped me get through the last stretch of withdrawal symptoms, I stopped the medication completely on July 20th 2019 and today 08/09/19 I feel fine, still a little moody but that will take time but I’m thankful the horrible symptoms are gone, in the future I will advise people not to take this medication the withdrawal symptoms are horrible and now I know why I read so many people comments that say they went back on Lexapro I was very tempted but knew I would have to start over so I stuck through, good luck it is possible!!
  • Yolande Bibby
    They increase me from 10 to 20 ml.I have been feeling brain tingling and a slight pressure pain.Anyone ever experienced these feelings?